Back To Masks: Students Express Conflicting Opinions Over Returning Mask Mandate

Students+crowd+IC+Tunnel+after+school+Friday.+CCSDs+mask+policy%2C+taken+directly+from+Tri-County+Health+Department%2C+states+that+masks+are+required+at+all+times+while+students+are+indoors.+However%2C+many+students+take+off+their+masks+once+they+leave+classes%2C+often+walking+maskless+through+the+halls.+Some+students+think+the+vaccine+affords+them+enough+protection+that+they+dont+have+to+wear+a+mask+any+more%2C+while+others+find+masks+uncomfortable+or+not+worth+the+trouble.+Whatever+the+reason%2C+enforcing+masks+has+been+difficult+at+Creek.

Lily Deitch

Students crowd IC Tunnel after school Friday. CCSD’s mask policy, taken directly from Tri-County Health Department, states that masks are required at all times while students are indoors. However, many students take off their masks once they leave classes, often walking maskless through the halls. Some students think the vaccine affords them enough protection that they don’t have to wear a mask any more, while others find masks uncomfortable or not worth the trouble. Whatever the reason, enforcing masks has been difficult at Creek.

Amanda Castillo-Lopez, Staff Writer

The first few days back from summer break were our first few days stepping into a tentative sense of normalcy- mask usage was recommended, but not required. That is until Sep 1, when the Tri County Health Department expanded the fully-masked policy to include high school students and staff. Though this may feel like a step away from normal for some, others believe it to be a necessity.

Senior Kavery Kallichanda was hesitant about the absence of a solid mask policy when school first started, especially with the rise of the new Delta variant.

“I don’t see the rush to try to get back to normal,” Kallichanda said. She noted the low percentage of students wearing masks when they had the choice, and worried over how that might impact the spread of the virus. “There’s a new variant- cases might go up again.”

Yet, the days when masks were not required were valued by many teachers and students. Teachers and students had the chance to interact without a mask covering each other’s expressions.

Sophomore Eric Gruel mentioned that he was grateful to be done with masks and see the faces of his teachers and peers.

“Everyone basically got vaccinated, and I was hoping that life could go back to normal – so I didn’t wear a mask,” Gruel said. He mentioned that he liked seeing people’s faces, “It’s an important part of establishing connections.”

While the vaccines for COVID are highly effective in mitigating the scale of transmission, the virus is still spreading substantially, according to health reports across the country.

Many schools under the Tri County Health Department’s jurisdiction have faced cases of contagion. “We have reached a point where transmission has increased significantly and is putting our communities at risk” Dr. John Douglas, TCHD executive director said regarding the recent masking order.

On the school level, Principal Ryan Silva said that Tri County’s decision didn’t surprise him; he predicted that the mask policy wouldn’t stay the same throughout the year.

“It [the mask mandate] seemed like it could happen- I just didn’t really have any idea when,” Silva said. “It seemed like everything with the masks would be fluid.”

Students have various opinions about the stricter mask policy. Some are grateful while others feel disappointed to have to go back to the way things were at the end of last school year.

Kallichanda welcomed the implementation of the new policy. “I’m glad that they switched to the [required] mask policy, I think it makes a lot more sense,” she said. “COVID still exists, and I feel like it’s better to be safer than to not be.”

Yet Kallichanda recognizes that not everyone is completely happy with wearing masks all day. She says that she’s not necessarily happy either.

“It’s annoying to me too!” Kallichanda said. “I wear glasses, my glasses get fogged up. I’m in band, and I have to keep taking my mask on and off whenever I play. So it’s not like I enjoy wearing a mask,” she added. “It just keeps everyone safe, right?”